The same year, Richard Goldstone delivered a speech at a
Fast forward: In the days before to Operation Cast Lead, during a period when the Gazans were committing war crimes daily by firing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians, Dr. Abraham Bell in his article on International Law and Gaza set out the basic principles and subtitled his article The Assault on Israel’s Right of Self Defense.
But what do these principles and rules he set out mean in practice? Did
Bruce Tucker Smith, JD, LL.M. (International Law), Lt Col USAFR (ret). who is currently a
“If Hamas attempts to shield its operations with truly innocent civilians or children—it is Hamas and not
Earlier this year, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations established a fact finding mission on the
This month the commission released its “Goldstone Report,” to a torrent of criticism. Apparently going beyond its mandate as a “fact-finding mission,” it stated that
No criticism, however, was more damning than his own remarks after its release. In an interview with the Forward on October 2, Goldstone himself acknowledged the tentative nature of his findings:
“Ours wasn’t an investigation, it was a fact-finding mission,” he said, “We made that clear.”
“We had to do the best we could with the material we had. If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.”
The Forward reports that:
“Goldstone emphasized that his conclusion that war crimes had been committed was always intended as conditional. He still hopes that independent investigations carried out by
“He recalled his work as chief prosecutor for the international war crimes tribunal in
“We couldn’t use that report as evidence at all,” Goldstone said. “But it was a useful roadmap for our investigators, for me as chief prosecutor, to decide where we should investigate. And that’s the purpose of this sort of report. If there were an independent investigation in Israel, then I think the facts and allegations referred to in our report would be a useful road map.”
“Nevertheless, the report itself is replete with bold and declarative legal conclusions seemingly at odds with the cautious and conditional explanations of its author’
Reading Goldstone carefully leads to the conclusion that he wanted to force the issue to make Israel carry on an investigation to avoid the ICC, so the inquiry would be not so much a fact finding mission as a prod to force Israel to hold its own investigation, failing which it would fall to the ICC to prosecute it.
Was this why the Report concluded Israel was guilty? Because if it had it only said Israel might be guilty, according to the available evidence, then the pressure on Israel to hold its own hearings would have been greatly reduced?
But this is what NGOs, like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have been doing for years: They do not say Israel may have committed war crimes but that Israel did commit war crimes. The reports are all about demonizing and delegitimizing Israel before the court of public opinion. .
The ICC itself says that all accused are to be considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt -- a basic human right. Too bad that the HRW and the others could not care less.
After the release of the Report, the New York Times published an Op-Ed by Richard Goldstone in which he wrote. “I believe deeply in the rule of law and the laws of war, and the principle that in armed conflict civilians should to the greatest extent possible be protected from harm.”
While any country at war focuses on winning the war, Goldstone focuses protecting civilians. But if any civilians are killed as a consequence of Hamas fighting from among them, it is Hamas who committed the war crime, not Israel.
Not only does Military Judge Bruce Smith, quoted above, have a different opinion on what is and is not permissible, so does Colonel Richard Kemp (the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan), a modern leading military expert, who said, "From my knowledge of the IDF and from the extent to which I have been following the current operation, I do not think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when an army has made more efforts to reduce civil casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza."
The Goldstone Report, therefore, has taken the best example of how wars should be fought and characterized it as the worse.
If Goldstone really cared about the rule of law, he would not have proceeded with or published this report. As his Report accuses Israel of war crimes, which, by his admission, he had insufficient evidence to prove, it is a shame he cannot be sued for libel.